Molded Fiberglass Corp - 1948-present - Ashtabula, Ohio - Linesville, Pennsylvania - Union City, Indiana - Adelanto, California

MFG had a modest beginning in 1948 in
Ashtabula, Ohio, near the shores of Lake Erie.  Robert S. Morrison, our founder, and a handful of dedicated men and women worked diligently together to mass-produce the first commercial products using polyester resins and fiber glass reinforcements.

The watershed event in the composites industry took place in 1953. MFG was chosen to produce all FRP parts for the Corvette. This led to the FRP boats, which MFG commercialized in 1955.

Since those early days, MFG has grown substantially, sometimes with great difficulty.  We’ve had our share of successes; we’ve also had experiences that didn’t turn out as we had hoped. We have learned from those challenges and have grown stronger. Throughout our history, MFG has remained committed to our customers and Teammates. On behalf of the MFG Family, that commitment continues today.


David C. Smith - Composite Champ: fiber glass bodies and the Corvette - Ward's Auto World,  Sept 1, 2003  

GM's sharp-eyed financial folks may have pulled the plug had it not been for introduction of Ford Motor Co.'s Thunderbird 2-seater in 1955, which became an immediate hit. That opinion is shared by many, including Robert Morrison, the founder (in 1948) and chairman of Molded Fiberglass Corp. (MFG) of Ashtabula, OH, who died a year ago at age 92.

Morrison's company was a pioneer in fiberglass molding technology and he worked closely with GM and Chevrolet in developing and perfecting the body panels in the '50s. Recalling those days in a memoir he wrote around 1980, Morrison observed: "I believe, but of course cannot prove, that Chevrolet would have completely cancelled the Corvette if the Ford Thunderbird had not been such a big success."

Fiberglass had been used since World War II for military applications and by the early '50s was widely replacing wood in pleasure boats. MFG and Owens Corning were by then industry leaders in the new technology, and at one time MFG made boats under its own name.

Glen Warner, a 30-year MFG veteran and Robert Morrison's son-in-law, currently is vice president-New Products. He recalls the so-called "elevator incident." Morrison had come to Detroit to discuss what MFG could do to support GM, but the two purchasing people he was to meet were off talking with suppliers about steel body components.

By chance, says Warner, Morrison was about to leave when he punched his floor, the door opened and there stood Purchasing Director Elmer Gormesen, who said the decision to make the car from steel had been made a day before. GM was hesitant about fiberglass, he said, because it planned for 10,000 units, and there was no existing capacity. Morrison assured Gormesen that MFG and OC could meet GM's requirements.

Morrison had other business in Detroit and didn't return to Ashtabula until 1:30 a.m. the next day. That's when he learned from Gormesen during a late-night phone call that GM had decided to go with fiberglass.

Noland Adams, who has chronicled Corvette in numerous books and articles, says GM borrowed heavily from marine technology to shape the first Corvettes using the "lay-up" method, in which pieces of fiberglass cloth are cut and laid in place over a female mold.

"Resin is mixed and brushed over and into the material," Adams writes, and "then rollers are used to force the moistened material into the crevices of the mold while forcing air out of the fiberglass," then allowed to cure overnight.

Crude by today's standards, the technology - since enhanced - still is used for some applications. It worked for Corvette, and the first volume-production, rustproof, lightweight car bodies were born.

Improvements in surface finish and other nagging problems came rapidly, but the next big breakthrough came in 1966 with introduction of SMC.

Bob Vogeli, chief of Chevrolet Body Engineering from 1963-'84 and now retired in Hendersonville, NC, says he liked working with Duntov. "He thought the body was something to hold the parts on," he quips.

Constantly seeking better materials and methods to make the panels, Vogeli says Chevy moved from the lay-up method to the "dry-mat preform" method in which flat parts were cut from fiberglass, laid in a die and resin added. "It was complicated and labor intensive," he says.

SMC proved to be simpler to fabricate because glass, filler and resin were combined in mats that could be "cut to size, put in a die and closed (for curing.) It saved labor and there was much better control around the edges of the material."

Vogeli says he fought with Morrison over switching to SMC "for one reason: His plant was set up around the old system. He said SMC would never make it."

MFG never has heartily embraced SMC, says Warner, although it does make SMC components for a variety of applications. The company sold the bulk of its Molded Fiber Glass Body Co. subsidiary, and with it most of its Corvette business, in the early 1960s to Rockwell International Corp. (part of which now is ArvinMeritor Inc.).

With new primer technology, the recent advent of "tough Class A (TCA)" SMC all but eliminates microcracks or "pops" in panel surfaces, Warner says. Despite SMC's resounding success in body and structural applications, MFG still prefers the pre-form method "because it makes better parts."

David C. Smith - Composite Champ: fiber glass bodies and the Corvette - Ward's Auto World,  Sept 1, 2003  


Richard Langworth & Graham Robson -  Interview With Stephen Blake - Collectible Automobile - May, 1984 issue

Blake: They were getting lousy body panels from the stamper, Molded Fiberglass in Ashtabula, Ohio. They'd always been lousy. But I found out more. Way back, ten years ago, somebody recommended that they start using this type of filler instead of getting good body panels. Just smear this crap all over the body and sand it off, Okay? Right. Just hours and hours of work. Somebody said they weren't putting enough on, so they put more on. Customers would have a little accident and their lawyers would want to sue because you sold them a used car that had been wrecked: the whole body was filled with filler! The whole schmear! Know what? We took a body and didn't put any filler in it. Just went ahead and painted it. It didn't look bad! So for years and years they'd been spending 80 to 100 hours putting this crap all over the bodies for no reason.

CA:You also leaned on Ashtabula for better body panels, right?

Blake: Absolutely. The body technology is some 30 years old, and they like the old technology at Ashtabula. But there's been three stages of improvement over the years. Right now, the Pontiac Fiero is state-of-the-art in terms of body materials. We thought and thought, and two months ago our new body panels were delivered, which are essentially the same material as the '84 Corvette's.


Robert Morrison is most recognized as the man who creatively developed the molded fiber glass (MFG) process for Corvette’s fiberglass body. In 1954, the Chevrolet Corvette became the first production automobile with a molded fiber glass reinforced plastic body after Morrison convinced General Motors that reinforced plastic had a use in the automotive history.

When Chevrolet agreed to proceed with this material, Morrison initiated all of the necessary financing, production facilities, engineering support, tooling and production personnel to make it happen. He partnered with automotive engineers as well as raw material suppliers which resolved Chevrolet’s concerns about a production site, equipment and scheduling.

As the cooperative process developed, the basement of Morrison’s home in Ashtabula, Ohio, became an impromptu design center for the 1953 Corvette Convertible fiber glass parts. MFG employees and GM’s engineers worked side by side on a ping-pong pool table, until suitable business space was established.

Molded Fiber Glass Companies of Ashtabula, OH has continuously produced fiber glass composite parts for the Corvette since 1954. As the founder of Molded Fiber Glass Companies, Morrison will be remembered for the product he introduced that change the automotive world. “Mr. Plastics” as he was sometimes referred to, was also a community leader and businessman, lecturer, author of books and wrote columns for the Star Beacon. Most notable was his election as a charter member of the Plastics Hall of Fame in 1973. He is considered by many people to be the father of high production methods for fiber glass plastic. His views were sought by television hosts and he was invited to the White House to meet with President Ford’s Board of Economic Advisors. Mr. Morrison passed away on September 16, 2002 at the age of 92.


from Composites: An Insider's Technical Guide to Corporate America's Activities

2925 MFG Place, P.O. Box 675
Ashtabula, OH 44005
440-992-2695 (Fax)

The Molded Fiber Glass Companies are engaged in the business of making molding compounds and molded parts. At their headquarters in Ashtabula, Ohio, they design, develop, and manufacture parts for a broad range of markets: vehicular (car and truck body parts), recreational, architectural (building facia and large decorative items) and industrial (power tools, satellite dishes, fire helmets, grain hoppers). Processes such as matched metal die compression molding, sheet molding, bulk molding, and wet molding with preforms or mat are used mainly with glass-reinforced thermosetting resins, mainly polyester and vinyl ester.

Staff Includes:
Design Engineers
Test Engineers
M & P Engineers

Composites Related People:
Mr. Richard S. Morrison, President & CEO
Mr. Ron Orr, General Manager
Mr. Dave Denny, Executive Vice President

Facilities and Equipment Description: Two manufacturing plants of 140,000 and 220,000 square feet, respectively, house 38 compression presses up to 2,875 tons, RIM equipment, injection and resin transfer molding equipment, a test lab, preform machines, and multi-station paint rooms.

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1315 West 47th Street
Ashtabula, OH 44004
216-992-2416 -7395 (Fax)

The MFG Research Company performs research and development of thermoset polymeric matrix composites for all of the Molded Fiber Glass Companies. Thermoset matrices, mainly unsaturated polyesters and rigid-polyurethanes, reinforced with fibers ranging from microfibers to continuous glass fibers, are a specialty. Product and process development, component prototyping, materials characterization, and composite testing and test development are all conducted. Resins are formulated for resin transfer molding, as well as for hand lay-up and filament winding; and custom sheet and bulk molding compounds are produced for compression molding.

Staff Includes:
Polymer Engineers
Chemical Engineers
Mechanical Engineers
Electrical Engineers

Composites Related People:
Mr. Bob Mollman, President
Mr. Pete Emrich, V.P. of Technology
Mr. Greg Costantino, Lab Manager

Facilities and Equipment Description: Facilities of 20,000 square feet include bulk and sheet molding compounding equipment, heated platen presses, ovens, environmental chambers, and a chemical, physical, environmental, and mechanical test lab.

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6175 U.S. Highway 6
Linesville, PA 16424
814-683-4500 -4504 (Fax)

Molded Fiber Glass/Linesville produces sheet molding compounds, and molds fiber glass-reinforced polyester custom containers and accessories, and a stock line of trays and containers for the industrial and food-service industries. They fabricate preforms and sheetmolding and bulk-molding compounds for compression molding processing. Ongoing research and development is conducted in new product design and in new resin formulations for fire retardancy, for electrical conductivity, for low density, and for specialized processing methods.

Staff Includes:
Design Engineers
M & P Engineers
Manufac. Engineers
Tooling Engineers

Composites Related People:
Mr. Thomas E. Levenhagen, President & General Manager

Facilities and Equipment Description: Facilities of 125,000 square feet house compounding equipment for up to 10 million pounds of SMC, 30 compression molding presses, a priming and finishing line, a liquid gasketing machine, and preform machines.

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55 Fourth Avenue
Union City, PA 16438
814-438-3841 -2284 (Fax)

Molded Fiber Glass/Union City specializes in the custom design and fabrication of aramid and fiberglass-reinforced polyester products for the construction industry (forms for in-place concrete casting and architectural fascia), for water treatment (processing equipment), and for truck and over-the-road tractor components. Processes include spray-up, hand lay-up, compression molding, resin transfer molding and VACRIM bag molding.

Staff Includes:
Design Engineers
Stress Analysts
M & P Engineers
Tooling Engineers

Composites Related People:
Mr. Jim Graham, President & General Manager
Mr. Garth Warner, Plant Manager

Facilities and Equipment Description: Facilities of 300,000 square feet house a manufacturing area, prototyping facilities, and quality assurance test equipment.

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9400 Holly Road
Adelanto, CA 92301
760-246-4042 -5500 (Fax)

Molded Fiber Glass/West designs and produces large environmental enclosures and containers for military and industrial applications, such as astrodomes for telescopes, radomes, transportation containers, exterior housings for medical diagnostic devices, and wind energy blades. Products are made using polyester resin reinforced with chopped glass strand, continuous glass strand mat, or glass fabric and using epoxy matrices reinforced with various fibers. Their processes include vacuum bag assisted curing (for sandwich construction), hand lay-up, spray-up and hydraulic compression molding. Wind energy blades are also hand laid-up at a plant in Gainesville, Texas.

Staff Includes:
Design Engineers
Manufac. Engineers
Quality Engineers

Composites Related People:
Mr. Duane Engle, V.P. & General Manager
Mr. Jim Sommer, V.P. & Senior Technical Director

Facilities and Equipment Description: Facilities house tooling, prototyping, manufacturing and painting areas.



For more information please read:

David C. Smith - Composite Champ: fiber glass bodies and the Corvette - Ward's Auto World,  Sept 1, 2003

Turner Moss Company - Composites: An Insider's Technical Guide to Corporate America's Activities (1998 edition) ISBN 0962322865

Richard M. Langworth -  Interview With Stephen Blake - Collectible Automobile - May, 1984 issue

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Car

Beverly Rae Kimes - The Classic Era

Beverly Rae Kimes - Packard: A History of the Motorcar and Company

Beverly Rae Kimes & Henry Austin Clark Jr. - Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942

Richard Burns Carson - The Olympian Cars

Raymond A. Katzell - The Splendid Stutz

Marc Ralston - Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - There Is No Mistaking a Pierce Arrow

Brooks T. Brierley - Auburn, Reo, Franklin and Pierce-Arrow Versus Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln and Packard

Brooks T. Brierley - Magic Motors 1930

Nick Georgano - The Beaulieu Encyclopedia of the Automobile: Coachbuilding

John Gunnell - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1946-1975

James M. Flammang & Ron Kowalke - Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1976-1999

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

Marian Suman-Hreblay - Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists

Michael Lamm and Dave Holls - A Century of Automotive Style: 100 Years of American Car Design

Thomas E. Bonsall - The Lincoln Motorcar: Sixty Years of Excellence

Fred Roe - Duesenberg: The Pursuit of Perfection

Arthur W. Soutter - The American Rolls-Royce

John Webb De Campi - Rolls-Royce in America

Hugo Pfau - The Custom Body Era

Hugo Pfau - The Coachbult Packard

Griffith Borgeson - Cord: His Empire His Motor Cars

Don Butler - Auburn Cord Duesenberg

George H. Dammann - 90 Years of Ford

George H. Dammann & James K. Wagner - The Cars of Lincoln-Mercury

Thomas A. MacPherson - The Dodge Story

F. Donald Butler - Plymouth-Desoto Story

Fred Crismon - International Trucks

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Chrysler

Walter M.P. McCall - 80 Years of Cadillac LaSalle

Maurice D. Hendry - Cadillac, Standard of the World: The complete seventy-year history

George H. Dammann & James A. Wren - Packard

Dennis Casteele - The Cars of Oldsmobile

Terry B. Dunham & Lawrence R. Gustin - Buick: A Complete History

George H. Dammann - Seventy Years of Buick

George H. Dammann - 75 Years of Chevrolet

John Gunnell - Seventy-Five Years of Pontiac-Oakland


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